Echo Park Residents Still Resistant To Development Project Despite Redesign

Echo Park Residents Still Resistant To Development Project Despite Redesign
Steve La

Echo Park residents again blasted the Sunset Flats planned development at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday, saying the development is too big for their neighborhood.

The plan includes commercial development plus 64 residential units. Residents raised concerns about traffic safety and traffic hassles given the extra cars the development would bring.

"With 68 additional cars, its going to make things really bad," said Echo Park local Kelly Saltzman. "It will increase traffic and make it more dangerous."

Architect Jay Vanos considered complaints aired at the last meeting, that the development did not fit with the surrounding character of the neighborhood. He redesigned the outside of the property to mirror the style of an old craftsman home in the area.

Residents were unimpressed.

"You have zero support," said a female Echo Park resident who declined to be named. She had a petition with the signatures of 50 local residents who are opposed to the development.

Vanos brought three consultants that countered claims made by residents about increased traffic, as well as the historic character of houses to be demolished to make way for the development.

Liz Culhane, a traffic consultant, said that based on city criteria and a study her firm conducted, there would be no impact on traffic in the area of the development.

Pam O'Connor, a historic preservation consultant, said that the houses that were to be demolished possess no qualities that make them historically significant.

Another consultant, Robert Lamishaw of JPL Zoning Services, told residents they have two choices. They can either work with Vanos, who has taken into consideration their input, or have someone else come in and do as they please. Lamishaw said other developers "may not be so sensitive to the needs of the community."

That didn't sit well with locals, who responded to the badly veiled threat with groans and boos.

"That sounds like corporate America stomping on what they want!" yelled Echo Park native Jim Kwiej.

Despite the brouhaha, one Echo Park resident thanked Vanos for redesigning the property based on input she gave from the last meeting.

Vanos seemed to appreciate the gesture, nodding in approval.


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